Tanya Wyatt, Happy Valley pond

Once upon a time Little Red Riding Hood embarked on the journey to a happy body, but upon entering the internet forest of health information she became hopelessly lost and never made it out of the woods. Was she eaten by the corporate food wolves; rendered immobile by too many unfulfilled gym memberships, or spiked on a branch of this-alone-be-the-whole-truth? We’ll never know. Poor little Red!

Becoming aware of your state of health/body and then doing something about it is certainly where to begin the journey to wellness. But a massive challenge is finding your feet in the forest of health information out there. To diet or not; high reps or low reps; no carbs or some carbs; high intensity or moderate intensity; never eat butter or eat as much as you want; stand up, sit down; run screaming from the building. It’s like there are a billion options out there!

Actually there are billions of options: 7,508,753,079 to be exact (at last internet world population clock count). And every body is different. While our bodies operate the same way, principally, the number of variables to consider ensures individual uniqueness. Now give those people access to the internet and suddenly the forest becomes a swamp of health information, and how to go about improving it.

So here’s a simple way through that forest. Just listen to me (and me alone). Ha-ha. Well maybe your mother too, and your partner, and obviously your doctor, and, and… oops, we’re back into the forest. Bleh.

Since that’s not going to get us anywhere, how about the following:
  1. Listen to yourself first and foremost. What do you want; what’s your body telling you; what can you do today?
  2. Scout around for your best health options; listen to friends and family, but ultimately settle on someone (or a system) you trust and then give them/it a chance to make a difference. Don’t play diet-roulette, or do glossy magazine instant-change gymnastics. Give it some time; think it through; decide, commit and change when you need to.
  3. Focus on three areas – what goes into your body, getting your body moving and how you think about your body. What goes into your body is about how you treat it – it’s about nutrition, getting sunshine, breathing well and sleeping soundly, it’s about the chemicals around us (and those we swallow). Getting your body moving isn’t just about exercise; it’s about getting off the couch or office chair; about walking up the stairs; about parking at the far end of the parking lot. And then, the big one – how we think! Modern life is stressful and much of that stress results from how our brains consume and process everything around us. It’s your brain, your mind: you have to control what goes in and what you respond to.
  4. Go wholesome before convenience. That’s really hard when you’re juggling work, home, kids, parents, bills and… Take the (initial) effort to find suppliers of food (and drink) to match your needs (there are plenty of emerging ethical and health-focused, farm-fresh suppliers popping up).
  5. Chillax and take it one day at a time. Don’t forget to look back and see just how far you’ve come, and celebrate your successes. If what you’ve done works, cool. But if it doesn’t, learn from it and try something else.

If only Red had listened to me…